Today’s Solutions: September 25, 2022

If you live in Sydney, Australia, and want to get rid of an old Ikea chair or bookcase, you can take it back to your local Ikea store, which will buy it back from you and resell it to help it avoid ending up in a landfill. The program, along with programs for furniture leasing that the brand is expanding globally this year, is a part of Ikea’s broader strategy to become climate positive—meaning it reduces more greenhouse gas emissions than its entire value chain creates—in only a decade.

Considering Ikea’s global domination in the furniture market, this is an incredibly ambitious plan. Hitting the climate positive goal will mean transforming every part of the business, including the way it designs products, the energy used in suppliers’ factories, and how customers use products that are often seen as disposable today. Those changes will have to happen quickly, which is why Ikea is investing 200 million Euros to accelerate the process.

Of all the pieces that make up their carbon footprint, the biggest and most challenging one to decarbonize is the materials it uses to manufacture furniture. The brand already sources most of its wood from FSC-certified forests; some wood comes from plantations, including locations in Slovakia where fast-growing poplar trees grow on partially degraded land where it would be harder to grow other crops.

But since there is a limited amount of sustainably grown wood available and a finite amount of land to grow more, Ikea is starting to incorporate other, improved materials into its products. For instance, Ikea has a rug that looks like sheepskin but is actually made from recycled plastic bottles. Seeing just how giant Ikea is, we’ll surely be keeping an eye out as they try to clean up their value chain. 

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